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Monday, December 7, 2009

Tarp Shelters

Tarp Shelters

Tarp Shelters are the quickest and easiest way to make a shelter. Which means savings of energy and/or calories, which we all know are key factors in any survival situation. If you can carry one with you, you can't beat the convenience.

Now what's the key to these shelters? Well, you should still follow the shelter criteria principles, along with the bedding, etc... But as for the best style, the lean-to design seems to be the quickest and best.

So what do you need? Basically a standard blue tarp will work fine, but there are fancier styles like the ones with reflective material on them, tube styles, or even ponchos. Even a big trash bag will work. You should also have some twine or parachute cord and you're ready to go.

Knot tying is always a good skill to know for any outdoors person (I'll have to do a future post on it) and it sure makes tying them easier, but you can just about tie anything.

Here's a good picture of different variations from Brad Bradley.Now, how you don't want to do it is like this one where it's all open and the wind can just blow right through the bottom and the sides. True it would stop the rain a little from above and beats nothing at all but let's learn how to do it better.

Now you can always combine the dubree hut with the tarp such as here in this photo, where you build a frame and then cover it with a tarp. But the point of a tarp is quick and easy, so why not make it easier? Besides, if you're going to build a dubree hut, you might as well finish it because they're way warmer with the insulating value that the roofing materials provide. Note: the botom is open on this one too.

So here's an example of a quick and easy one. A lean-to design with pine bows for a bed and a reflection fire to keep you warm. The key being a reflection fire, where the heat of the fire is reflected into the shelter. Because tarps have almost no insulating value, you almost always need a reflection fire to make them warm. All I did here was lay a few logs in a "V" in front of the shelter and built a fire in front of them. Man...was it warm. (I'll have to do a future post on reflection fires also)

Now for the the king of tarp shelters! Again the lean-to design, but with a few modifications. I built this one in the trees, with an over hanging of tarp, blocked on one side, and a reflection fire in front. The roof helps to trap the heat from the fire, along with the fact that you can only enter from one side. I also built it in the trees which creates a little micro climate. Wow this one was warm!

I told you trap shelters are simple and quick. Next time I need to write on reflection fires and then knots.

See you on the trail,

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  1. I think the main thing about a tarp is not about conserving calories. Putting up a tarp is the same effort as some of the ultra-light one person tents. And although isolation wise tents do not add a lot they do keep you from wind, which in a tarp situation is often less the case. Ofcourse a tarp, including reflection fires etc. will add up to a new situation, but builing and maintaining a fire also costs a lot of energy. There are excellent light weight tarps for sale with loops to attache in any way you want. I would nog go for a big volume, heavy duty sheet. I like it because it is convenient and I like to be in the open air plus it is less conspicious (depending on the tarp). Also the possible contact with fire, whilst in you tarp area is nice.

  2. "Knowing how to make survival shelter is pretty important as it helps you live through whatever catastrophe that lands you in the harsh environment."
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